Honda and Mori Inc. – 3D Designs Archive, Uni-Cub and Beautiful Engines

Honda and Mori Inc., a Japan based creative agency, has been working together on interesting projects since the past few years. I’ve already blogged about one of their interesting projects ‘Honda 3D Design Archives’, a microsite where Honda is shared their 3D design data/models online under Creative Commons 4.0 for personal printing. This was launched when the subject of 3D printing had become quite popular among the marketing teams of various industries and we began seeing more 3D printed work than ever before. Unlike any other automotive brand, Honda was the first one to offer such an archive.

Mori Inc.’s last two initiatives with Honda have also been equally interesting.

OK Go: “I Won’t Let You Down” Music Video

Not a car, but a Honda product, the UNI-CUB is a compact personal mobility device that was featured in OK Go’s song “I Won’t Let You Down” and Morihiro Harano, the founder of Mori Inc. worked with the band to produce this super cool video with over 17 million views on YouTube. The video was shot with drones and there is also a microsite http://iwontletyoudown.com/ where visitors can watch the video, the interview with the band and also create and submit their own visualizations.

IWontLetYouDown_Visualisation1 IWontLetYouDown_Visualisation2

The video was all done in a single take that involved hours of complicated off-camera preparation. A special unit was responsible for the drone: one person to fly it like a remote-controlled plane, another to program GPS sequences and complicated moves, someone to manually operate those sequences, plus someone else to control the drone’s camera, which is able to spin a full 360 degrees. (Japan Times)

Honda: Beautiful Engines

Honda also launched another project ‘Beautiful Engines’ with Mori Inc., Dentsu, Kappuku, Yama and Kaibutsu – a short-film and microsite talking about engines in pop-art theme visualizations. The short film was shown at the Sao Paolo Motor Show in Nov.’14 and also available online on Honda’s social networks.

The key message behind the project is ‘At Honda, our engines don’t just move people and cargo. They move society and history, too. They are engines of change in a very real sense.’

Honda_BeautifulEngines_Site

The microsite shares the look and feel of the video and gives the user quick information in form of short paragraphs, animations and images designed in a pop-art theme. The scrolling effect keep the user engaged and adds to the curiosity of the upcoming content and how the whole journey ends. Even though the mechanic and visuals are great, the content lacks depth and could have a richer timeline with some insider and testimonial stories that add to the ‘visually entertaining’ factor here. The social sharing on each piece of content is quite modern where social media icons are not used but initials of the networks like FTPT – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr encourage the user to click and discover what it actually means – certainly more easily guessed by digital and social experts than the average online user.

To sum it up, Mori Inc. and Honda are collaborating for some beautiful work and we will hopefully see even more interesting work moving forward – time for some wearable technology campaign perhaps? 😉

To view more interesting projects by Mori Inc. visit http://mori-inc.jp/

Honda uses Twitter Cards for 2015 CR-V

After Acura, now Honda is using the Twitter Cards to allow their followers to customize the 2015 CR-V.

The user is engaged with top-line configuration within the tweet – allowing the brand to create more value in making the user aware of the different trims and options available rather than just sharing a link out to the configurator with an image.

Honda_CRV_Tweet

The user begins with selecting a trim, then the drive train and finally the colors. The end result shows the ‘front’ and ‘back’ shot of the car and allowing the user to tweet their configuration and share with their followers. After sharing, serious buyers can proceed with ‘Continue Buying’ where it takes the user to the brand website.

Honda_CRV_Continue_Tweet

The interesting part of the user journey is that the user doesn’t need to re-start the configuration and lands on the last step i.e. color selection. One can always go back and change, but those who are confident with their selection can move forward to complete the entire configuration with accessories etc.

Honda_CRV_Configurator

For serious buyers and auto enthusiasts, this is a good way to engage them and help them learn more about the CR-V.

Here is how it all began with Acura.

Paper Toys – by Audi and BMW

Besides gaming, automotive brands are using their magazines and social media to engage their owners kids as well.

Audi Magazine

Audi_Magazine_USA

Audi USA provides a special ‘Audi kids’ space’ on their official website where visitors can download the A3 Cut-outs and also shop Audi collection. The cutouts can be downloaded as PDFs and also torn from the last page of the Audi Magazine delivered to the owners.

Audi_A3_CutOut

Besides Audi A3 Cut-out, there is also a cut-out to appeal to the racing fans and engage kids by providing them with assets to tell their own story.

Audi_Kids_Space_CutOut

BMW – Personalized Paper Toy

BMW Brasil has an improved version to that of the Audi, where the car can be personalized in terms of the name, colors and wheels. All the user has to do is add a name and make the selection to generate an instantly downloadable PDF.

BMW_Brasil

BMW_Paper_toy

Even though BMW Brasil provides a personalized cut-out version, it does not clearly specify which model it is. That is a missed opportunity to create some familiarity with the kids at a young age and already capture their minds.

BMW Germany however adds additional value targeting probably 10 years and older with printable board games, student plans and coloring books.

BMW_Germany_Fans

However, both the examples are interesting and simple providing the time-poor parents a quick take out. BMW also acts responsible here by not promoting their products only in gaming, to which many parents are opposed and add strict time tables to play video games, but also creating loyalty and expressing ‘Family Care’ in a very subtle way. This also helps them to tap into audience who will probably never play video games and not get enough screen time on TV, iPods and Tablets until after a certain age.

Ford Explorer – Interactive Print Ads

Ford Explorer and BBR Saatchi & Saatchi, Israel just made it easy to interact with print ads i.e. without an app!

For the new SUV, they created a series of 3 interactive print ads which give visual demonstrations of the main features in sync with the creative look and feel.

Ford definitely recognizes the need to innovate and use new methods to reach out to the prospects. Considering how fast the technology is growing and being adapted by the users, it is about time that we start seeing more of such ads.

Mercedes-Benz – Interactive Instagram Configurator for GLA

To promote the GLA 250 to the millennials, Mercedes-Benz USA and their agency Razorfish launched a social configurator on Instagram.

The Instagram account called ‘Build Your Own GLA’ lets users create their own custom versions of the car. The experience begins from an account where the user is shown only the car and asked to tap along to begin the configuration. The call-to-action (CTA) begins with asking the user to ‘Tap the photo’ to reveal the tags – which are essentially the other Instagram accounts that contain sun information like colors, wheels, etc.

The first step ‘Choose your color’ shows an account full of various shots of the GLA in the available colors. User can simply select the image of their preferred color and continue the experience.

The second step involves selecting a wheel which gives a good close-up of the alloys available.

After choosing the wheel, the user has to select the roof – where again the shots have a great visibility and concentrate only on that aspect of the feature, without forcing the user to look at the whole car over and over again.

The fourth and last step involves selecting the preferred grill. After the grill is selected, the user is moved to a fresh account containing the summary of their configured GLA.

By summary, we mean the image now shows their preferred color, wheel, roof and grills. On tapping the image, the user is congratulated and given the specs first hand eg. the name of the color, the package (e.g. Sports), roof name, etc. with a starting price tag. Furthermore, the user is also asked to take the picture to their nearest dealer. There is a disclaimer in the end listing what is not included and prompting users to contact their MBUSA Instagram account directly for queries, questions etc.

Conclusion

Razorfish can still pull it off. Good to know! Mercedes-Benz is in love with Instagram, as we can see so many executions in different countries using Instagram. It is no wonder that they have championed Instagram in the automotive industry at least. I was honestly expecting Audi to come up with something like this and could have never thought that Mercedes-Benz would end up doing this.

Even though the whole social configurator thing works, there is one small area for improvement. In the last leg of the account, where the user is shown the car – we could have filled up the account with more details e.g. 15 seconds clips showing the car in motion and also each and every image that has been selected could have been shown below the main image as a summary of the end product.

If we don’t want to promote what the user has already selected, this dead space could have been used to promote ‘Accessories’. I bet the after-sales guys would have loved it 😉

There is always room for improvement, but we must not forget that even today in over 90% of digital agencies there would have been enough people on both agency and client side, who would have killed the idea assuming the user won’t go through the long journey and the pain of creating so many accounts and assets. Mercedes-Benz US has overcome doubts as such and once again challenged the creatives in the auto industry. It is always great to see such inspiring work.

Audi – your move! 😉

View the GLA250 Instagram account here http://instagram.com/gla_build_your_own

BMW and Volkswagen Stories

BMW and Volkswagen are actively using user generated content and crowd sourcing to break away from the usual brand and product stories. I think it is spot on and about time that brands like BMW and Volkswagen, who have such a large and loyal base of audience, involve their fans and owners and give them a platform to express their ‘story’, their ‘experience’ and their ‘voice’. Technology today gives brands such a great advantage to involve their audience and leverage their voice to enhance brand campaigns.

BMW’s global campaign called ‘BMW Stories’ and Volkswagen’s ’40 years Golf’ and ‘The Peoples Film’ campaigns are great examples currently in the automotive category involving a broad range of audience.

BMW STORIES

BMW’s International website and most of the local market websites are running the ‘BMW Stories’ campaign. Owners, fans and enthusiasts are encourage to share what BMW means to them and how it is a part of their life, what memories they share with BMW and would love to share these stories, experiences & opinions. To make your story appear on the site, all the users have to do is add the hashtag #BMWStories to their content, which can be in the form of a video, quote or images shared over the key social networks currently Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

BMW_Stories_Fans

The clever part of this campaign is that BMW is putting these ‘Stories’ where information on the other models is also promoted. Story telling aspect is not just left to the fans but BMW also actively participates in it. i8 model is used as a halo for the BMWi Range and they share interesting stories under the title ‘Pioneering Stories’ showing a range of films on the i8 model. Pioneering Stories even include the racing stories on ‘Alessandro Zanardi’ and a few selected behind-the-scenes, internal films and fans experience with the i8. There is a separate social stream for ‘Pioneering Stories’ which are picked up via an additional hashtag #pioneer in addition to the #BMWStories.

Pioneering_Stories

After the BMWi range, the BMW X range is promoted aggressively with selected films focusing on ‘dynamic performance’. This is topped by an even exciting video going viral currently on the 2 Series Coupe M235i called the ‘BMW DriftMob’ – directed by the Hollywood stunt expert Mic Rodgers (Google him now!). The video is currently the feature story on the site showing the main film (see below) and behind-the-scenes stories. It definitely adds a lot of ‘punch’ and ‘attitude’ to ‘the BMW Brand’ and encourages people to add their stories all the more – giving off energy and a ‘just do it’ attitude. Not only that, it is trying very hard to appeal to the 2 and 3 series segment audience to consider them over Audi. The call-to-action sends viewers right to the configurator to visualize and learn about all the features available or to the detail page for those who want to read before they take any other serious action showing interest in the model.

The film has received about 12K likes on the BMW Global Facebook fan page.

BMW Facebook Post

The campaign is supported by social media posts, online banners and eNewsletters and this viral is surely going to leave the auto enthusiasts with a ‘hangover!’

Volkswagen ‘4o Years Golf’

Volkswagen’s ’40 Years Golf’ is an even richer story telling experience online as per the title, as it allows Volkswagen to tell the story via a timeline.

40_years_golf_volkswagen

The timeline is in a grid format showing a range of beautifully designed and placed static and animated visuals. The interactive timeline allows viewers to learn facts, answer a question, watch a video, listen to sound clip, enlarge an image, read a story and share the content online via Facebook, Twitter and Google+. The icons like ‘settings’, ‘star’ and ‘number 1 badge’ share interesting facts from the respective year adding an element of surprise. Storytelling is very much ‘owned’ by Volkswagen and they are sharing what they ‘would like us to know’.

VW_Timeline

However, this is not the case for ‘The Peoples Film’ campaign in New Zealand.

‘The Peoples Film’ is a campaign solely dedicated to the owners and their stories are at the heart of the campaign – in fact, they are the champions of the campaign and not a particular model. The video shows a time lapse of the owners and models till date and looks so natural –  it does not try to sell you anything. It purely celebrates ‘the drivers’ of Volkswagen over 60 years and shows how each generation enjoyed the Volkswagen days. The website is also pretty simple and shows the main content that is a part of the campaign. There is not a single image of the latest model being promoted in New Zealand – a very refreshing approach to let the drivers of Volkswagen be the heroes here and a subtle call-to-action to explore the range is shown, as a standard approach. To add your story, all you have to do it share your local New Zealand region, the model of your car and the year. The story can be shared via a video or image and drivers can leave some comments about their story. Once the story is accepted and approved, the driver’s name is added to the list with their model name and year.

PF(The visuals shown above are two separate pages)

The Facebook post promoting the campaign is very well written with a subtle tone of voice, thanking the drivers and celebrating their contribution over 60 years.

VW_NZ_Facebook_Page

#ThrowBackThursday on my blog – ‘Porsche Everyday’ microsite

Storytelling via user generated content, owned content and crowd sourcing is a pie everyone is trying to own and champion. Even though Porsche has not updated its ‘Porsche Everyday’ website – made in 2011 – it is still winning in terms of the online experience and user experience is pretty valid as per the online behavior today.

The landing page begins with a beautiful message – the call-to-action and purpose of this website.

Porsche_Everyday

When the site loads, you are given various options – to read about stories from different topics like ‘Magic’, ‘All Weather’, ‘Comfort’, ‘Usability’, ‘Safety’ and ‘Efficiency’ – clever way to label them from a benefit/feature point of view. The side bar allows you to chose what story you want to see from the main subject of interest – it could be an ‘Everyday Story’, ‘Heritage Story’ or ‘Product Story’.

Comfort_Story_Porsche

On selecting the story of interest, it opens up as a pop-up and also shows what related stories are available under ‘See more’ below the content and even ‘LIKE’ and ‘SHARE’ them online.

Porsche_Story

Stories can also be filtered model wise. There is also an option to upload your own story in form of a video or an image.

Porsche_Submit_Story

Even though we see 4 different cases here, we learn that it is absolutely important to respect the interface design ethics in digital and cut the clutter out. A lot of brands desperately try to add too much information and too many buttons on the site. That does not help and leaves the people confused. And when using user generated content, it is absolutely essential to ensure that the user is made the hero of the site and the campaign, and not let the product steal the limelight – there should be enough room to intrigue the users to find out more at their own pace and area of interest.

I think BMW should stop adding content at this stage on their BMW Stories website – it is pretty content heavy and there are various themes on the page. Volkswagen 40 years is pretty empty and could have been enriched with some owners stories in a more detailed way. The Peoples Film is absolutely brilliant and the film is really very nice. The effort that people have made to share content is purely acknowledged. Porsche website may not be working for some of you right now, but if you are a savvy internet user, you may agree that even today the 2011 created website is winning in multiple ways. Of course we cannot directly compare, but it is a good benchmark to follow….I know the site is in Flash 😉 We are all happy to see HTML5 aren’t we. Porsche’s webs specials have significantly improved. I hope Porsche refresh this website sometime soon or launch a brand new version that will still stand out in 2017 😉

I bet if Lamborghini opens this ‘Share your story’ door – we will see some really interesting and unforgettable stories. Hope you enjoyed these for the time being!

Porsche Blind Trade

Porsche ‘Blind Trade’ does not guarantee a Porsche for everyone. That’s the dare. So are people brave enough to let go of their current luxury car and blind trade it for a possibility to get a Porsche? Yes, seems  like there are many of them out there. Internet tells me around 2000+ people traded-in their car in the first few hours only, gambling to win a Porsche.

Porsche_Blind_Trade

The campaign microsite reveals a new feature of the Porsche every 2 days and will be live for at least 3 weeks until the reveal – announcing the winner on the 31st March’14 who will proudly walk away with a brand new Porsche and converted into a loyal customer on that very day.

The site is in Dutch only and because I can understand some Dutch, I am able to navigate around and it is pretty simple. Not many pages and simple user interface. Social search is also optimised and there is good background music as well. Even though the site has really dark colors as opposed to the white and clean look and feel of Porsche, a fine and intact design like this with minimum call-to-actions and an interactive user experience do the job just right to deliver a premium luxury website experience. Check it out for yourself on http://www.porscheblindtrade.nl/